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“Grab the popcorn and turn on CSPAN, America, because history might be about to repeat itself. Here’s the only question: Will Congress succumb to the temptation to do it?
“Here’s the history lesson: in June of 1986, a young University of Maryland basketball star named Len Bias was drafted by the Boston Celtics, went out to celebrate, and died of an overdose from powder cocaine.
“Within days, media and public outrage led to a congressional push for tough, new mandatory minimum sentencing laws to end the frightening crack epidemic then plaguing cities across America. With no hearings, consultation with experts, or debate, Congress passed decades-long mandatory minimum sentences for virtually all drug crimes. On October 27, 1986 – my seventh birthday, incidentally, and less than two weeks before a mid-term election – President Ronald Reagan signed the bill. Thirty years later, half of the people in federal prisons are drug offenders.
“Of course, mandatory minimum drug sentences didn’t work.”